Ethical Values in Social Work Essay example

1381 Words Mar 28th, 2011 6 Pages
Social work values and ethical dilemmas

What are values, ethics, ethical dilemmas and a code of ethics?

Values relate to principles and attitudes that provide direction to everyday living. Values also refer to beliefs or standards considered desirable by a culture, group or individual (AASW). Similar to values, but slightly different, ethics means a system of beliefs held about what constitutes moral judgement and right conduct, they are moral principles (rules, guides) (AASW). So an ethical dilemma is then when a person is faced with a choice between two equally conflicting moral principles and it is not clear cut which choice will be the right one (AASW). Finally, ‘a code of ethics’ is an explicit statement of the values,
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Loewenberg & Dolgoff (1996, p.12) point out that learning about ethics can sometimes hinder ethical decision making behaviour because there are no easy answers and it is easy to feel ‘stuck’. As they have stated “social work students and practitioners who spend too much time reflecting about professional ethics may find themselves in the same situation as the centipede who become incapable of moving about when it tried to understand how its legs worked.”

So in teaching about values and ethics we cannot provide you with direct answers and solutions. What we can do is provide you with: • knowledge about social work values and the code of ethics; • frameworks to help clarify conflicting values and ethical dilemmas; and • encourage you to develop self awareness of your own personal values through critical reflection.
It is important to focus on each one of these as a student social worker.

Firstly, read and re-read the AASW code of ethics to become familiar with its guidelines. Read about the ethical guidelines and dilemmas that social workers commonly face. The Code of Ethics is quite upfront about them.

Secondly, authors/practitioners have provided frameworks to help clarify conflicting values and ethical dilemmas. For example: Mattison (2000, p.206) offers a framework to analyse ethical dilemmas such as: 1. Define and gather information: Once the social

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